The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has started ‘They Day’ campaign. The alleged aim is to prevent misgendering transgender and gender non – binary people by referring to everyone with ‘they/ their/ them’.
I support transgender and non – binary people. I believe that it’s extremely disrespectful to deliberately misgender a trans person and refer to them by their deadname (the name they were given at birth, but no longer identify with).
However, this campaign is not needed, nor, frankly, helpful. As I wrote in my last blog post, it’s estimated that 25 – 35% of transgender people identify as gender non – binary according to estimates in the US and UK. The latest Australian Census from 2016 revealed that 35% of transgender respondents classified themselves as non – binary. Those respondents may respond positively with being referred to as they/ them/ theirs. But for cis gender and the majority of transgender people, this isn’t the case.
This also makes me wonder when we can move past this debate? I’m not saying it’s not important or should be dismissed, but I want LGBTQ+ people and their allies to talk about public policy. What do you want from government and society? Even after the legalisation of same – sex marriage, there is so much we can focus on, much of it I’ve talked about it here: ending conversion therapy for minors and in the medical field, ending discrimination in workplaces and schools, ensuring teachers and School Guidance Counsellors have proper information on LGBTQ+ people so they can spark discussion and not (accidentally) spread misinformation (i.e. that asexuality doesn’t exist or that it’s a phase) and ending sexual violence and harrassment against bisexual and asexual women. On a global level, LGBTQ+ activists could work on ending corrective rape, ensuring that homeless shelters and emergency accommodations are inclusive to transgender people, demand that the West stop supporting and aligning themselves with governments that have capital punishment for homosexuality like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Western governments should make sure that LGBTQ+ people who are at risk of execution can seek asylum and refuge in a Western country without the risk of being forced to return to the country in which they fled. (Brief trigger warning) We should also be a voice to children, often ten or younger who have been tortured and murdered for not adhering to gender norms and that ‘parents’ suspect of being gay. Many other young people risk assault from their ‘parents’ for coming out as LGBTQ+. I believe it’s these issues that LGBTQ+ people, their allies, corporations, government, etc should focus on.
Workplace inclusion and visibility (another issue many trans/ non – binary people face) is needed. Why not have a meeting or professional development day where colleagues can be made to aware of the use if they/ them/ their and ze/ zir pronouns within the transgender community? Make sure all forms have options other than male or female. Why not have specific policies (which no doubt all would), that states that discrimination against all people (both staff and clients), based on ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, etc will not be tolerated?
It’s great that members of the DHHS want to address trans/ non – binary inclusion. But I think they are going about it the wrong way. Do it through policy and creating a workplace and service that promotes inclusion. Not a video campaign about calling everyone ‘they’. I really don’t think it’s needed.
What do you think about ‘They Day’ campaign? Let me know in the comments below.